STAR / RFC Operations Meeting - 21 January 2003

Reading Football Club Operations Meeting
Present: Reading FC: Jackie Evans, Ray Booth, Clive Doyle. STAR (Supporters Trust At Reading): Paula Martin.

Is it possible to have a fenced off catering area for use at half-time as at Derby?

This was not dismissed but discussed with some enthusiasm and a promise to look at the potential for two areas at the back of the East stand, with the proviso that there must be no possibility of any away fans (especially if excluded from the away end) being able to find a way in and exit from the stand in an emergency must still be safe. Any proposal would be subject to appearance and design as well as finding funding for the work.

Is it possible to improve service on the concourses?
Architects have been instructed to design new serveries in the North, East and South stands.
Implementation would be subject finding funding.

Is there any news on smoke extraction?
The full ventilation system would cost £60k but a scheme is currently being costed which may be as little as £10k for the East stand. Now the North is filling more there is more of a problem there which means that as the ceilings are higher high level vents may be installed at realistic cost. Implementation would be subject finding funding.

Why is Sky Sports not on at half-time, when the TV shows only a shot of the pitch?
That shot is the Meridian camera and it has already been decided to give the catering supervisor as well as the steward supervisor the means to re-tune the TVs to Sky.

Is it possible to have more shelves in the Upper West?
There are shelves on the columns and unlike the other concourses there are window cills, but as the Upper West is used more now we will look at whether it is possible. Implementation would be subject finding funding.

The Safety Gate and stewarding:
Why is the safety gate used?

The safety gate is not used just to divide home and away fans, but especially to prevent Reading fans looking for trouble using other fans as cover for getting to the focal point of the away coaches. The gate is there long enough for the coaches to leave and then it is taken down, and is usually used only when there is a large number of away coaches. This period could be between 20 minutes and 45 minutes depending upon the number of coaches and the fixture. To avoid confusion as to whether the safety gate is used or not, the Safety Officer would appreciate feedback on whether fans would prefer to know the gate was always there rather than only on certain occasions.

Can car park stewards check disabled badges as there has been abuse of the spaces?
There is such a policy but it may have lapsed in execution, it will be reinstated as it is not right for genuinely disabled to be turned away when non-disabled use their spaces.

Why has there been the threat of ejection for throwing shredded paper?
The problem of the paper throwers is one of the difficulty of clearing the paper up, especially when there is a rugby match the next day. It is not just a matter of sweeping the terraces and the cleaners complained bitterly when it is wet and when it gets down behind the advertising hoardings. We would prefer the throwers to find a less messy form of trying to improve the atmosphere, especially as the paper is not even visible to the players as they come out. The resources required and time expended in cleaning the terraces reflect on the costs of the cleaning operation.

Why do stewards ask to see season tickets but not check the correct seat is used?
Stewards should not be briefed to ask to see season tickets and so we are not sure why this is happening. Is it possible to let the safety officer know the number of the steward to re-brief them? Check the notices on the concourses for the Code of Conduct for how to contact the safety officer.

We have had a letter from the Football Safety Officers Association thanking the Reading fans for their conduct when the Boxing Day kick off was delayed. 'Reading supporters were superb, the best we have had all season. They all sat and behaved impeccably. They should be congratulated and are a credit to the club.'

The under 5s policy seems to depend on the turnstile operator?
The policy is if the child is going to sit on the adult's lap a ticket is not needed, and this is always going to be hard to control other than at the turnstile operator's discretion. The alternative is a ticket for everyone.

Why were the Portsmouth tickets on sale so early at Portsmouth as it gave their fans longer to try to get tickets in the home stands?
This was unusual and is unlikely to happen again. The club's database shows the buying pattern and away fans will find it harder to buy tickets for the home stands. Reading fans must be aware too that if they allow away fans to buy tickets using their buying record the tickets are traceable and any trouble will result in the club refusing to sell to them in future.

Is it possible to buy tickets for away matches at Reading at the last minute but pick them up at the away ground?
No, because we are reliant upon the home club being able to re-print tickets, and there are occasions when this is not possible. The policy must be for fans to collect from Reading or to allow sufficient time for postage.

Is it possible to give Reading fan's who travel away, priority for an away game with very limited capacity?
We can understand the reason for the request, but it is one of the benefits of a season ticket to get priority.

Does the ticketing database differentiate between the matches tickets are bought for?
Yes it is possible to look at the buying pattern and so tickets for England U21, testimonials or rugby matches would not qualify to buy tickets for a game when there is the likelihood of away fans trying to buy in the home stands.

Why do away tickets go on sale so late?
It depends on when we receive the tickets from the away club, it is often less than two weeks.

Why are tickets on sale immediately after a match as it encourages people to leave before the end of the match?
It is the result of lobbying by Reading fans who do not live or work in Reading and cannot come to the stadium to buy them on the Monday. It is not possible to sell them before the game as there is a limited capacity and a conflict with that day's tickets.

How are internet sales and telephone sales without Wembley progressing?
One third of ticket sales are now by internet, and the benefit of having knowledgeable telephone staff has more than made up for the longer hours Wembley offered. With reference to the point raised at the last meeting, if you buy on-line and your address on the database has to be changed, you will have to write to the ticket office manager for your next purchase, to change the credit card authority, and that ticket will be charged at the internet rate.

Other issues:
Why does the scoreboard count down so that added on time is not obvious?
We believe it is a Football League ruling, but will check that as the scoreboard counts up for Rugby.

Is it possible to have a home fixture on Boxing Day?
We always request the League to give us a Boxing Day fixture. Police resources are not always available for Bank Holidays and therefore this may have had some affect on the past few years. However with the recent track record of trouble free fixtures at Madejski Stadium, it may be that this issue will change in our favour.

Why is the PA so often the wrong volume?
It is hard to get it right for everyone especially as the speakers siting means that it is not the same in every seat. However, we do wonder whether it is too loud before the teams come out as the pitch announcer raises the volume as he is outside the usual range of the speakers (it may need the use of a decibel meter for the PA box to be aware of the actual levels). This is not our usual area of expertise but will pass it on.

Is it possible to lobby to make the Madejski Stadium the permanent venue for England U21 matches when they England games return to Wembley?
Yes we have already started.

Thanks to STAR for the above information supplied to Hob Nob Anyone?

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